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"What happens if I can't care?" Preparing for emergencies as a carer

When you are caring for someone, the thought of what would happen in an emergency can be frightening. But it doesn’t have to be.

By using these tips, you can put a plan in place to give yourself and the person you care for some greater peace of mind

Carer emergency plans

The first way you can prepare for emergencies is by putting together an emergency plan. Your emergency plan contains relevant information about you and the person you care for, so that emergency medical or care staff will have the correct information to hand.

The Carers Information Service provides a template emergency plan for you to download and use: Carers Emergency Plan. To help you fill in your plan, download the Carers Emergency Plan Guidance.

If you care for someone with dementia who is likely to wander, the Metropolitan Police Herbert Protocol scheme allows you to record vital information about a person e.g. medication, contact numbers, etc. If the person you care for goes missing, the form can be easily handed to the police to save time.

Emergency contacts

It may seem obvious, but make sure you have any emergency contact details to hand e.g. stuck to the fridge or in your wallet. If the person you care for has a mobile phone, you can enter an ‘ICE’ (in case of emergency) number in the contacts section. This can help if the person you care for is likely to get lost, or finds it difficult to ask for help.

The Carers Information Service can also supply you with an Emergency Card for your wallet or purse, so if something happens, emergency services will know that you are a carer and have access to emergency contact details. Contact us or visit the Carers Support Centre to pick up a card.

If something happens to you

It’s easy to lose sleep over what would happen if you weren’t around to care. Croydon Council’s Croycare service provides up to two hours’ replacement care for the person you care for in an emergency. When you register, you will receive a card with your name, unique ID number and an emergency phone number.

Once registered, if you have an accident, emergency or are taken seriously ill, you (or someone on your behalf) can call the 24 hour CarelinePlus team and a team member will visit the person you care for and stay with them for up to two hours, allowing more permanent care arrangements to be put in place if needed. Call 020 8654 7166 (CarelinePlus) or email to register.

Keeping the home safe

Prevention is better than cure, and whilst you can’t plan for every eventuality, there are ways of making the home safer. For example, Croydon Council offers the Croydon Careline equipment and telecare service, providing emergency buttons; fall and movement detectors; and smoke, flood, gas and carbon monoxide detectors. This service can be arranged at a cost, but people who need support can also receive this service after a Needs Assessment and a financial assessment by Croydon Adult Social Care. To request telecare, contact Croydon Council Contact Centre (020 8726 6000) or call Careline directly (020 8654 7166, for a demonstration.

If the person you care for requires equipment to support their safety and independence, Your Care (Croydon) Ltd is an equipment and mobility shop run by Croydon Social Care and Croydon Health Services, offering impartial information and advice. You can also use the AskSARA tool, run by the Disability Living Foundation. After answering a few questions, AskSara will give you a report with advice and equipment ideas to meet your needs. This information is free and can be easily printed out.

If you are concerned that the person’s home may be at risk of fire, London Fire Brigade (0800 028 44 28, provides free home safety checks and smoke alarm fittings. Priority groups include: older people living alone; people with mobility, vision or hearing impairments; mental health service users and people with substance addictions.


According to the NHS, one in three people aged 65 or above who live alone will fall once a year. For older people in Croydon who have fallen or may be at risk of falling, the Age UK Croydon Personal Safety Project offers a free risk assessment to identify and reduce fall risks. They can also arrange for extra stair rails, grab handles and other aids to be supplied and fitted free of charge. For more information, call Age UK Croydon on 020 8683 7105/6, email or visit the Age UK Croydon website.

Managing medication

The Message in a Bottle scheme allows you to keep a list of medication that the person you care for has been prescribed, along with the contact details of the pharmacy that supplies it. Bottles are available for free from Croydon Lions Club (020 8681 2306) or from the Carers Support Centre: learn more.

More help with emergency planning

Our revised Help in an Emergency page has lots of tips and ideas to help you prepare for emergencies. Keep an eye on our What’s On page for future emergency planning workshops.

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Open weekdays 10am - 4pm, feel free to drop in for advice or support with any issues related to caring.
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